I love the smell of oranges. They smell so fresh, sweet and crisp; they remind me of sunshine and happiness. Something that is a bit lacking here right now. For the past several years, I have made a panettone for Hannukah, but this year I decided I wanted to make something that would feature my favourite winter fruit, the orange. We are surrounded by so many orange trees, the smell is intoxicating and I guess I have been hypnotized by their fragrance. I had some low fat ricotta cheese begging me to do something with it, so I decided to make a yeast coffee cake with the rest of the candied orange I made the week before. I kept the sugar syrup that I used to candied the orange rind and used some of it to glaze the coffee cake with before and after it was baked. The sugar syrup had a lovely bitter orange flavour that helped cut the sweetness of the syrup. This is a very light and moist cake full of the orange flavour I was craving.
Mr. Baroness Tapuzina and I would like to wish you all a happy and much more peaceful 2009 than we are experiencing here now. We are safely away from the fighting and intend to stay that way.
1 package active dry yeast or 25 g (1 ounce) fresh yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
½ cup chopped candied orange rind
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
Sugar syrup from candied orange or an egg wash
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir the warm milk, orange juice, sugar, ricotta cheese, orange zest, candied orange rind, salt and egg into the yeast mixture.
Using heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and set on low speed, beat 2 cups flour into the yeast mixture until a wet dough forms. Beat in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a stiff dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, tuning to coat. Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.
Grease a 22cm (9 inch) springform pan. Punch down the dough. turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 20-inch-long rope. Braid the ropes together. Coil braided dough in prepared pan; tuck ends under. Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200C (400F) brush the dough with sugar syrup or with an egg wash. Bake until the top of cake is dark golden brown. 20 to 25 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool slightly.
Brush some more of the orange sugar syrup over the warm cake. Serve warm or a room temperature.